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101. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 3/4
Yun Xia Cassirer’s Symbolic Forms in Application: New Symbolization of New Thought in the Language of Online Communication
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Communication online via the Internet includes different genres, such as email, blogs, chat groups, virtual worlds, and the World Wide Web. Across different genres, Internet communication is primarily undertaken in the form of written language in visual modalities with oral features. The technical properties of Internet communication production and transmission influence how people perceive and use language orthography to construct meanings from language as a new way of thinking and practicing self-expression. My analysis uses Ernst Cassirer’s philosophy of symbolic forms and Louis Hjelmslev’s glossomatics as a theoretical base to analyze and discuss how Internet communication serves to offer a new symbolic form of a new thought process as a type of Walter Ong’s second-order orality in human communication.
102. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 3/4
About the Authors
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103. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1/2
Dario Martinelli Introduction—A Manifesto For “New Humanities”
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104. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1/2
Marija Liudvika Drazdauskiene Questionable Foundations and Quality in the Humanities
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Information, knowledge and understanding, history/tradition and novelty, fashion and science, show business and intellectual product are the contexts to review in order to answer the question why humanities have been losing credibility and have come under the hammer. The present article, informed by philosophers like Bertrand Russell and Mary Midgley, authors like Charles K. Ogden and Ivor A. Richards, semioticians like Algirdas Greimas and Roland Barthes and classical English literature, argue that the problem originates between the continuity of thought and indoctrination, between the stance of Rectors of universities and henchmen in the politics of market economy, and it is best exemplified by the caricature of humanities in some universities resulting from the implementation of the courses of technical skills. Knowing that humanities have been prized for intellectual attainment (Lincoln Barnett, Paul Goodman), their precarious state seems to depend on unbalanced philosophical, ethical, educational and economic principles. With economy being the factor which is hard to dispute, political and ethical principles tend to invite a revision because of a traceable tendency to promote the production of the manageable rather than the enlightened.
105. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1/2
Ricardo Nogueira De Castro Monteiro Numanities and Their Role in the Twenty-First Century: Three Questions Towards a New Era
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Despite the unquestionable importance of technological progress in twenty-first-century society, the decision by many political leaders worldwide to treat natural sciences as an almost exclusive priority betrays a terrible misconception of the complexity of the contemporary world. As the Renaissance cannot be reduced to Copernicus’s or Galileo’s brilliant contributions, or Enlightenment to the works of such giants as Newton and Cavendish, contemporary society will hardly be remembered as just a series of amazing software and gadget updates. There are three categories of questions today that only humanities are prone to answer. The first one, exploring the relations between subject and object mediated by the meaning of “property”, ultimately concerns the discussion between legality and legitimacy. Not long ago, teenagers were still being sued by the giants of the Entertainment Industry for downloading songs, and the practice of mash-ups or remixing even now arouses huge polemics. The second one, focused on the self-representations of the subject, concerns the changing meanings (and representations) of identity and cultural borders in a globalizing world. Finally, the inter-subjective interactions are the centre of the political tensions between democracy and demagogy, two opposed categories that have often been presented as hardly distinguishable from each other.
106. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1/2
Seema Khanwalkar Humanities in the Digital World / Or Digital in the Humanities?
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“Humanities in the digital age”, more than a topic, is today a genre in itself: an academic anxiety, a compromise, an opportunity for a new epoch, or the demise of a traditional ability to introspect. Browsing the literature on debates, research, experiments and future is overwhelming, and every other day we witness the closing down of a traditional humanities subject, or we see funding being diverted to the technological experiments in humanities. It becomes imperative to engage with this revolution, also called ‘digital humanities’. What to do in the wake of this new epoch? Do we resist, not ‘serving’ the system, or do we participate in creating a new digital humanities experience? The answer is difficult, particularly in the context of future generations who, as ‘digital natives’, cannot look back. There is merit to the anxieties with regard to the neo-capitalist enterprises that threaten to obliterate the fundamental tenets of the humanities. At a crossroads today are the academic departments, but at ease with new technologies are the younger generations. This article is one step towards discovering views, stating pros and cons, and looking into the kaleidoscopic spread of the humanities in the digital world. Or the digital in the humanities world … only future will tell.
107. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1/2
Dario Martinelli, Lina Navickaitė-Martinelli Musical Performance As an Intermedial Affair (A Case of a Pianist)
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The professional profile of a performer does not only consist of mere music playing, but calls into question a number of variables of private and public, musical and extra-musical articulation. Performers have their own personality and inclinations; they are exposed to different forms of education and influences; they develop certain technical and stylistic abilities; they find certain repertoires more suitable than others; they confront themselves with composers and their requests/indications; they have to take into account social demands to given repertoires; they also, intentionally or not, develop a public persona; finally, and particularly nowadays, they create a number of media interfaces that allow the public to access all the previously-listed features. The present article focuses on new media communication, particularly “official websites”, as one of such media interfaces (and one of the most important ones, in present-day society): the various semiotic strategies of visual, linguistic and audiovisual representation of this medium will be applied to the case of the Lithuanian pianist Andrius Žlabys.
108. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1/2
Laura García-Portela Our Responsibility to Future Generations in the Context of Ecological Crisis: Perspectives and Future Challenges
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The present article aims to present how the different philosophical perspectives have tackled the problem of the foundations of our responsibility to future generations in the context of ecological crisis. The main theories addressed here will be Hans Jonas metaphysical foundation, utilitarianism, communitarianism, the rights theory and contractarian perspectives derived from John Rawls’s theory. By assessing these perspectives, I assert that, against jonasianianism and related perspectives, our responsibilities to future generations must be thought of in terms of “political, not metaphysical”. The foundation of these responsibilities must be based, not on God, nor compassion, nor benevolence, nor identity sentiments, but on a conception of ourselves as rational and reasonable persons. From my point of view, we must find our responsibilities to future generations in our respect for their necessities and interests as well as in the maintenance of their available opportunities. This point of view allows us to point out some of our future challenges in the intergenerational justice scope.
109. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1/2
Massimo Leone Help! Is There a Semiotician on the Plane?
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“Please, we urgently need a semiotician!” is certainly not the most common request heard in a situation of emergency, yet a time may come when we realize that there are cases that a physician (or another scientist) cannot effectively deal with.Two passengers fight over the same space on a plane, to the point that the pilot is obliged to land and have the two contenders get off at the closest airport. Each of the humanities has a specific way to frame and seek to find a less disrupting solution to the problem. The present article argues that the specific contribution semiotics can and must give to present-day societies is that of providing discursive evidence that problems that fall in the domain of language cannot be solved by technology, no matter how smart it might be, but rather can be solved only via communication as such: talking, compromising, finding agreements.
about the authors
110. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 33 > Issue: 1/2
About the Authors
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111. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/4
John N. Deely (26 April 1942–2017 January 7)
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112. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/4
Richard Currie Smith Introduction by the Guest Editor
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113. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/4
Edward J. Baenziger, CSB From Maritain’s Thoughts on the Micro-sign to the Science of Semiotics
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Jacques Maritain’s discussion of the micro-sign leads us to question how signs get interpreted, from the least to the most complex forms of communication, while John Deely’s treatment of both cenoscopic and ideoscopic interpretation lies in the distinction between attraction, repulsion, and indifference. I add the key concept of inter-reaction, symbiosis, that allows for cooperation within and among all organisms. Using quantum physics and cathexis to delve the mystery of cellular sign values and beyond, we, the semiotic animal, better comprehend our own nature and that of the living world through semiotics.
114. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/4
W. John Coletta, Seema Ladsaria, Dylan Couch The Unleashing of John Deely’s “Semiotic Animal”
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Our purpose in this essay is twofold: to explore John Deely’s “semiotic” or “contextualized animal” as also a “contextualizing animal”, one that not only responds in context but one that changes first the context so as later to change itself—as all living things do; and to explore how this context-shifting “semiotic animal” has caused to emerge the very “signs upon which”, as Deely writes, “the whole of life depends”. Environmental ethics are inseparable from personal ethics, then, because (1) we are in fact ourselves environments for others, (2) we carry models of our environments within us (our genetic / ontogenetic selves), and (3) even our free will (the basis of ethical choice) is an “environmental” phenomenon, as Martin Heisenberg argues in Nature (14 May 2009: 164–165) and as Deely writes in Semiotic Animal: “signs do not fall strictly among the things objectified by perceptions of sense but act prior to that perception to enable it to reconstruct the physical environment along objective lines that are meaningful to the species” (Semiotic Animal: A Postmodern Definition of Human Being Transcending Patriarchy and Feminism [2010]: 119)
115. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/4
Silver Rattasepp, Kalevi Kull The Semiotic Species: Deelying with Animals in Philosophy
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Animals are treated in philosophy dominantly as opposed to humans, without revealing their independent semiotic richness. This is a direct consequence of the common way of defining the uniqueness of humans. We analyze the concept of ‘semiotic animal’, proposed by John Deely as a definition of human specificity, according to which humans are semiotic (capable of understanding signs as signs), unlike other species, who are semiosic (capable of sign use). We compare and contrast this distinction to the more standard ways of drawing the distinction between humans and animals.
116. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/4
Christopher S. Morrissey Analogy and the Semiotic Animal: Reading Marshall McLuhan with John Deely
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Thanks to a helpful tetradic diagram found in the expanded fifth edition of John Deely’s Basics of Semiotics, in which the context and circumstances of a sign’s utterance (in addition to the sign-vehicle itself and the immediate object of the sign) is distinguished from all that is explicit in the sign itself apart from the context and circumstances of its utterance, it is possible to bring Deely’s insights to bear upon the semiotically suggestive work of Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan’s implicitly semiotic understanding of analogy is structurally present in his efforts to visually articulate the “laws of media” with his own “tetrad” diagrams. Deely’s discussion of the irreducible triadicity of signs therefore illuminates McLuhan’s attempt to understand how analogical thought actually works on the most fundamental structural level in the cognition of the semiotic animal. There is a unique cognitive syntax to analogy, which is operative in the animal that Deely has most appropriately identified as “the semiotic animal”. This article discusses McLuhan’s understanding of analogy in terms of its figure/ground structure, by using the example of the thermometer from Deely’s Basics of Semiotics. In relating this example to McLuhan’s tetrad, it is shown how McLuhan’s implicitly semiotic analysis can also increase our semiotic understanding of other technological tools, such as Skype videoconferencing.
117. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/4
Jamin Pelkey Analogy Reframed: Markedness, Body Asymmetry, and the Semiotic Animal
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The evolution of arm-leg relationships presents something of a problem for embodied cognitive science. The affordances of habitual bipedalism and upright posture make our two sets of appendages and their interrelationships distinctively human, but these relations are largely neglected in evolutionary accounts of embodied cognition. Using a mixture of methods from historical linguistics, Cognitive Linguistics and linguistic anthropology to analyze data from languages around the world, this paper identifies a robust, dynamic set of part-whole relations that emerge across the human waistline between upper and lower appendage sets cross-culturally. The general pattern—identified as “arm-leg syncretism”—provides a plausible primary source for the uniquely human penchant for creative analogy, or “double-scope conceptual blending”, said to underlie the human language faculty (Fauconnier and Turner 2002, 2008; Deely 2002; Anttila 2003; Bybee 2010). This account not only addresses a conspicuous gap in the literature but also enables us to better understand what it means to be human—including how we came to be unique among other species and how we are still vitally interrelated with other species. Deely (2010) blends both sides of this tension into a single phrase: “the semiotic animal”. The paper further develops this distinction by drawing attention to one of the roles upright posture played in the emergence of semiotic consciousness.
118. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/4
Farouk Y. Seif Semiotic Animal on the Path of Evolutionary Love
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John Deely uses the way of signs not only to establish the contact and dependencies between human thought and action and the surrounding physical universe, but also to account for a social construction of reality as part of human experience beyond mere “thinking thing”. Experiencing evolutionary love is a reciprocal exchange of desire, which is the primary strength of Eros, where eroticism and semiotics intertwine. When Deely states that all animals signify, but only human animals are capable of developing semiotics, he opens a whole way of understanding for us to move beyond the definition of human being as a rational animal into a “semiotic animal” that is also capable of love.
119. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/4
Richard Currie Smith Replacing Descartes’s “Thinking Thing” With Deely’s “Semiotic Animal”: Resolving Our Species Sustainability Dilemma and Establishing the Semiotic Age
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French mathematician and natural philosopher René Descartes in the early seventeenth century developed his “thinking thing” definition of human being. This ontological construct that places the rational intellect of mankind as separate and superior to the natural world became the centerpiece of the Enlightenment and established the Modern Age. Descartes’s definition underlay the scientific and industrial revolution, colonialism, and the cultural imperialism of the West to become globalized along with modernity. With the marvelous technological advances of the worldwide spread of modernity also came devastating climate change and massive biodiversity loss that threatens our species sustainability. The American philosopher John Deely in the early twenty-first century developed his “semiotic animal” definition of human being that places our species within the natural world while being endowed with a unique responsibility toward its preservation and restoration. Deely’s definition is viewed as in consonance with our sustainable Paleolithic animistic ontological orientation centered on accurately interpreting relational being while going beyond it through clarifying the semiotic processes involved in accurate discernment of sustainable activities. It is asserted that replacing Descartes’s thinking thing definition with Deely’s semiotic animal and globalizing it through contemporary communication technology such as the Internet will launch a Semiotic Age and resolve our sustainability crisis.
120. The American Journal of Semiotics: Volume > 32 > Issue: 1/4
Stéphanie Walsh Matthews How Fit is the Semiotic Animal?
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How did the Semiotic Animal come to be? Do semiotic analyses of possible evolutionary trajectories allow us to understand how the Semiotic Animal developed a need for meaning in its life? This paper discusses what role built environments have on semiosis and how they might impact on what can be called semiotic fitness over time. Through the lens of evolutionary semiotics, biosemiotics and ecosemiotics, the question of “what is semiotic fitness?” will be dissected in order to understand what impact epigenetic fakeness and bloated signs might have on the Semiotic Animal.